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Archive for the ‘19th Century’ Category

Blouse

1910’s Edwardian blouse, made from cotton batiste

I made a Victorian Fan Skirt a while ago and recently made a bolero jacket to match, using the last of the leftover fabric. The next thing to make was a blouse, often called a “shirtwaist” during this period.

Blouses for women had increased in popularity during the second half of the 19th century. This new form of dressing for daytime meant that there was a bit more flexibility in shirt-and-skirt combinations than had previously been the case, especially when the mode of dress in previous times had been only gowns. This change in fashion during the Victorian era, from gowns to two-piece ensembles, really paved the way for a new element of women’s dress that would continue into the 20th century, gradually making women’s clothing more similar to mens.

I particularly wanted a blouse with a high collar, back-closing, with a pin-tucked front and insertion lace, and with sleeves that were not too full. In short, I can’t tell if my new blouse is an early Edwardian blouse or a late Victorian one!

Pattern

I used a variety of sources to “make” my pattern.

Ladies' Street Costume, Summer 1893, from Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns.

Ladies’ Street Costume, Summer 1893, from “Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns”.

The pattern I used for my bolero jacket (from Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns, edited by Kristina Harris) included a pattern for a shirtwaist blouse. I used this pattern for the sleeves and the cuffs, as well as the back panel.

A free pattern from Ladies Treasury for a sleeveless blouse was helpful to use for the collar shape.

A free pattern from Vintage Connection for an Edwardian blouse was helpful to use for the enlarged front panel, which I needed to make the tucks.

I graded the different parts of the original patterns up and then made the necessary adjustments according to my measurements.

This blouse was made from white cotton batiste, with cotton embroidered insertion lace, cotton lace edging, and plastic “mother of pearl” buttons.

Construction Steps

Step One: First I did pin-tucks down the centre front of the front panel. There were fours sections of pin-tucking, each with four rows of pin-tucks each. Then the material was slashed in-between the two rows at the left and in-between the two rows at the right. This slash allowed for the insertion lace to be attached.

The front panel, with rows of pin tucks.

The front panel, with rows of pin tucks. The slash on the left of the centre front is for a row of insertion lace.

Step Two: As my insertion lace had a “seam allowance” on each side, I could not sew it the easier way. Instead I had to slash the material and sew the lace on right-sides-together. The unfinished raw edges were folded under on the wrong side and hand-stitched down.

The insertion lace pinned down to sew.

The insertion lace pinned down to sew.

Step Three: The last thing to do on the front panel was to pin-tuck the shoulder seam area. This was tucked to fit the back shoulder seam. The tucks were released before the bustline, to allow a bit of extra fullness.

The front panel shoulder seam is tucked to fit the back shoulder seam. The tucks are released to form fullness for the bust.

The front panel shoulder seam is tucked to fit the back shoulder seam. The tucks are released to form fullness for the bust.

Step Four: Once the centre front was completed, I turned my attention to the back panel. As the back panel housed the button placket, I prepared the centre back by folding over the centre back edges.

The back panel, with button placket preparation.

The back panel, with button placket preparation.

As it turned out, the back panel was not wide enough for my figure and I had to unfold this section and then add a separate button placket later to give me a few more inches!

Step Five: The side seams and shoulder seams of the blouse were then sewn.

Step Six: The top edges of the collar were sewn together. A small lace edging was also included in this seam so it would adorn the top edges of the collar when it was right side out.

The two layers of the collar was sewn right-sides-together. A small lace edging was also sewn in the seam.

The two layers of the collar was sewn right-sides-together. A small lace edging was also sewn in the seam at this step.

The collar was then attached to the garment, sewing the outer layer of the collar to the blouse with the machine, and then hand-sewing the inner layer of the collar, making sure all the raw edges are tucked under. I did gather (or heavily eased) the neck edge of the blouse to get the collar to fit better.

The collar finished, showing the lace edging.

The collar finished, showing the lace edging.

Step Seven: The sleeves were then sewn. As this blouse needs a shirt-sleeve placket, it is wise to make the placket *before* you sew the sleeve seam (which of course is NOT what I did!). Here is a great tutorial on making a shirt-sleeve placket.

Once the sleeve seams were sewn, the head of the sleeve was gathered and set into the armhole of the blouse.

The bottom edge of the sleeve was gathered to fit the cuffs. The cuffs were sewn together, with the same thin lace edging around the outer edge that I used in the collar. Then the cuffs were attached to the bottom of the sleeve. (For more on the basic attaching of cuffs, see this tutorial.)

The cuffs finished, showing the lace edging and the button.

The cuffs finished, showing the lace edging, the button, and shirt-sleeve placket.

Step Eight: The final finishing steps involved hemming the bottom of the shirt and running a bias-binding casing around the waist. A cotton tape was inserted through this so it could be drawn up to fit snuggly underneath the skirt. Finally a row of buttons were sewn as fastenings down the centre back and on the cuffs.

Unfortunately I had not taken adequate measurements of my width, nor my height, nor my arm length! This meant that the centre back had to have an extra placket added (as mentioned above), the bottom of the blouse had a bit added beneath the casing to make it longer, and the sleeves still need to be pulled apart and re-made so they reach down to my wrists! This is one of the lessons I seem to have to learn again and again with each sewing project.

Anyway, here is the finished garment!

The front view

The front view, with three decorative buttons sewn down the centre front.

The back view

The back view, showing the buttons and the casing ties.

Myself and my daughter at our recent outing to see the new Anne of Green Gables movie.

My daughter and I at our recent outing to see the new Anne of Green Gables movie.

My new ensemble was now desperately looking for a place to “go-and-show” and it was lucky that the new Anne of Green Gables movie was coming out in Melbourne at just the right time! My daughter and I got dressed in our finery, stocked ourselves up with some raspberry cordial and plum puffs, did our hair the best we could, and took ourselves off to the theatre.

My daughter wore her Anne of Green Gables outfit, while I wore my gored petticoat, fan skirt, bolero jacket and my new shirtwaist.

Needless to say, the movie was a great success! Whilst it could never compare to my own personal favourite Megan Follows, I am excited that a new series may reinvigorate a new generation to be Anne-ites.

Related Posts

Making a Bolero Jacket

Making a Victorian Fan Skirt

Making a Gored Petticoat

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: 1910’s Blouse at Adored Vintage

Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns: A Complete Lady’s Wardrobe, edited by Kristina Harris – buy on Amazon

Sleeveless Blouse for Suits, c. 1905 – free pattern from Ladies Treasury

Edwardian Shirt Waist (Blouse) Pattern, c. 1903 – free pattern from Vintage Connection

How to sew insertion lace – by Wearing History

Attaching a collar – by Grainline Studio

The Shirt-Sleeve Placket – by Off The Cuff

How to sew a button cuff – Youtube tutorial by Professor Pincushion

Reflection on the White Shirt and Womankind – by Fashion Archeology

The new Anne of Green Gables movie – trailer on Youtube

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Ladies' Street Costume, Summer 1893, from Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns.

Ladies’ Street Costume, Summer 1893, from Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns.

Quite a while ago I made a Victorian Fan Skirt, which I generally wear dancing with just a T-shirt. However, I began to feel that it would be nice to make a matching jacket using the left over material. It could then be used as more of a complete costume, instead of just a dancing skirt.

I did not have very much material left, so I thought a bolero jacket would be the easiest option, as it used the least fabric.

Bolero jackets had been quite popular since the 1850’s and 60’s, and continued to be so through to early Edwardian times. They differ from the warm winter jacket and coats, that clearly were designed for warmth. Instead they seem to be more of a decorative fashion.

Pattern

I used a pattern from Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns, edited by Kristina Harris. This pattern book is a reproduction of patterns that were published in the popular dressmaker’s journal, The Voice of Fashion. The patterns are all authentic 1890’s patterns and cover a wide range of women’s clothing.

I graded the original pattern up and then made the necessary adjustments according to my measurements.

The pattern drafted and then cut out enlarged to fit my measurements.

The original pattern is drafted onto grid paper and then cut out enlarged to fit my measurements.

This jacket was made from the same materials as my Victorian Fan Skirt, with blue cotton outer and white cotton broadcloth lining.

Construction Steps

The construction of this bolero jacket was very simple, as there was no sleeves, no collar and no fastenings. It was also fairly simple to fit without doing a mock-up.

Step One: I began by sewing the side seams together in the outer fabric. Then I sewed the side seams of the lining together.

Step Two: Then the outer and the lining were placed right sides together and sewn around the outer edges. In the picture below you can see that the only part left unsewn is the shoulder seams.

The side seams have been sewn and now the outer is attached to the lining.

The side seams have been sewn and now the outer is attached to the lining.

The curves are clipped and then the jacket is turned the right way and pressed well.

Step Three: The shoulder seams can now be sewn. The outer layer is sewn first with the sewing machine, and then the raw edges of the lining are folded in and handsewn down.

Step Four: Embroidery is one embellishment that I love to do on my clothes, and this jacket was no exception. I drew a design on the edges and embroidered it with one strand of white DMC cotton in chain stitch.

The embroidery, which is a more mid-19th-century design.

The embroidery, which is a more mid-19th-century design.

And here is the finished garment!

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

Stay tuned for the next post on making a shirtwaist blouse to complete this ensemble!

Related Posts

Making a Victorian Fan Skirt

Making a Gored Petticoat

Sources and Relevant Links

Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns: A Complete Lady’s Wardrobe, edited by Kristina Harris – buy on Amazon

Pattern for a Bodice with Bolero Front (c. 1896) – at Ladies Treasury

How to make a simple bolero jacket – Youtube tutorial

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The 1871-3 three-piece-gown described and patterned in Janet Arnold's book. (Photo found on Pinterest, from manchestergalleries.org,but I can't find the original entry.)

The 1871-3 three-piece gown described and patterned in Janet Arnold’s book. From Manchester Art Gallery.

This is Part Three of a series I have been doing on making an early 1870’s gown. Part One was about making the skirts, and Part Two concerned the construction of the evening bodice. In this post I will be making a day bodice for this ensemble. I am hoping to wear this outfit for the Bi-annual Melbourne Victorian and Gothic picnic in Australia later in the year.

Day bodices of this era often had full length sleeves (with a somehow 3/4 length look) with closely-fitted sleeve heads that dropped off the shoulder and large flared frills or cuffs at the bottom of the sleeve. A high neckline was also often popular.

The drawing in Janet Arnold's

The drawing in Janet Arnold’s “Patterns of Fashion 2”.

Pattern

The pattern for this Victorian ensemble is in Janet Arnold’s book, Patterns of Fashion 2. It comprises three skirts (underskirt, overskirt, and basque) and two bodices (evening and day).

The pattern for the day bodice was a lot looser than the evening bodice, which made it a lot easier to fit. As with all of my bodices, I did a mock-up of calico to check the fit before beginning.

This bodice was made from a printed striped cotton material and lined with cotton broadcloth. The ruched trim was made from a polyester maverick shantung. The netting used around the neck was a soft polyester tulle – the most similar to silk netting that I could find.

Constructions Steps

Step One: I flat-lined the bodice with white cotton broadcloth and treated both layers as one. First I sewed the centre back seam, then the side seams and the shoulder seams. Then I made two diagonal darts at each side on the front to fit the bodice properly to the figure. On the left side of the front opening, a bone casing and bone was added to the vertical edge.

The bodice has been sewn together, with an opening at the centre front.

The bodice has been sewn together, with an opening at the centre front. The lining of the sleeves is also attached in this picture.

Step Two: I made the sleeves up (the outer fabric and the lining) separately. The lining was sewn to the bodice first (as can be seen in the picture above) and then the outer sleeve was sewn on the same stitching line as the lining. The sleeves were then turned in the right way, so that the wrong sides of both layers were facing each other.

The sleeve pattern

The sleeve pieces cut out, showing the upper sleeve and lower sleeve.

In hindsight I should have flatlined the sleeves as I did with the bodice. The sleeve outer and the sleeve lining were tricky to get the same because of the pattern. This made the two layers slightly different and they feel a little uncomfortable to wear. In addition to this, it was quite difficult to sew the sleeves on the garment, as the entire bodice had to be inside the sleeve lining in order to attach the outer!

The bodice with sleeves attached.

The bodice with sleeves attached.

Step Three: There were two layers of flounces; one positioned around the elbow and one around the wrist. The wrist flounce was bound on the bottom edge with bias binding and was then eased to fit around the sleeve using gathering stitches. It was sewn to the sleeve so that the bottom edge of the flounce and the bottom edge of the sleeve were the same.

The wrist flounce, bound at the bottom with bias binding, and with a single line of gathering stitches around the top.

The wrist flounce, bound at the bottom with bias binding, and with a single line of gathering stitches around the top.

The elbow flounces each consisted of two layers of flounce joined together. Both layers were bound with bias binding along the bottom edge. The top edge of the bottom flounce was gathered to fit the bottom edge of the top flounce, and then handsewn to it. The top flounce was then gathered to fit the sleeve, and was handsewn to the sleeve along the sleeve’s central seam line.

The elbow flounces were made up of two layers.

The elbow flounces were made up of two layers. Here you can see one flounce made up (top), the top layer of flounce (middle) and the bottom layer of flounce (bottom).

The inside of the double elbow flounce, showing the hand stitching.

The inside of the double elbow flounce, showing the hand stitching, and the top raw edges folded over and gathered.

It was at this point that I realised that I had done the skirt flounces wrong, as the flounce was supposed to be slightly gathered and I had sewn mine flat and just stretched the bottom bias edge so it would sit properly.

Step Four: The bodice was trimmed with the same ruched bias trim I made for the evening bodice and the skirt. To read more detail on how I made it, go to Making an Early 1870’s Gown: Skirts. This trimming was around the neckline and around the top of the two flounces on each sleeve.

The trim attached to one of the skirts.

The trim attached to one of the skirts.

Step Five: In addition to this ruched trim, the neckline was filled in with a lacey trim. I made this by folding a layer of poly tulle in half lengthwise (with a finished width of 2 1/4″) and then pleating it into 3/8″ pleats. Once pleated, the trim was bound with white bias binding along the raw (not the folded) edge, and an insertion lace was sewn 1/2″ from the folded edge. Ribbon was threaded through the insertion lace so it could be pulled closed and tied at the centre front.

The

The “lace” trim

Once the neckline was bound with some bias binding, I sewed the lace trim on, with the bound edge hidden inside the garment and 1 3/4″ of the trim showing on the outside. The ruched trim was then handsewn on top to cover the bound edge of the neckline.

Trim detail

Trim detail

Step Six: The bodice was hemmed with a white piece of bias binding, all of which was folded to the inside and handsewn down. The front closures were 5 hooks and eyes, with 4 covered buttons sewn on the outside of the garment, over the top of the top 4 hooks. There were three waistband “eyes” or “bars” sewn on to the back of the bodice for the basque to attach to.

The front view

The front view; the skirt is terribly creased but no time to iron!

The side view

The side view

The back view

The back view; unfortunately in these hurried pics I had forgotten to pull the back of the bodice down properly, which caused a ridge at the top of my corset line.

I am really pleased with how this has turned out, and it is all ready to wear to a Victorian picnic I am attending in October. Now I just have to decide if I should making a hat for this ensemble! The list of things to make is neverending.

Related Posts

Making an Early 1870’s Gown: Skirts (including how to make the trim)

Making an Early 1870’s Gown: Evening Bodice

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Janet Arnold’s dress – from Manchester Art Gallery

Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy on Amazon

Another reproduction of an 1871 day dress, made by Before the Automobile

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Mark Lester as Oliver Twist in the movie, "Oliver!", in  1968.

Mark Lester as Oliver Twist in the movie, “Oliver!”, in 1968.

One of my sons was in a recent production of Oliver at school, and I decided to make him a quick costume for it.

There are many online instructions for putting together an Oliver costume, but generally speaking there are four components:

  • a shirt,
  • pants,
  • vest
  • and cap.

Optional extras include braces, jacket, black shoes, a scarf/cravat … and dirt!

Shirt

I bought a normal white button-up business shirt from a second-hand shop and unpicked the collar, that is, the “pointy” part.

The shirt with the pointy strip of the collar removed.

The shirt with the pointy strip of the collar removed.

Then I sewed the neckband back together, making sure all the raw edges were tucked under. The shirt ended up being quite long, as it was a small adult size, so I roughly cut around the bottom edge so it didn’t look too ridiculous!

Pants

I decided not to worry too much about making pants, so he just wore a brown pair of cargo drill pants that we already had at home, with the legs rolled up to his calves. Many boys in the Victorian period had matching pant/vest/jacket suits, so making something from the same material as the vest is always an option.

Vest

For the vest, I used newspaper for the pattern pieces and held it up to my son’s body and cut it out. There were two pieces, a back panel (to be cut with the centre back on a fold) and a front panel (with extra at the centre front for the button placket). Just remember that the centre front and the centre back need to be placed on the grainline. Grainlines generally run at right angles to the waistline.

The newspaper pattern I drafted. I have marked the centre front and back.

The newspaper pattern I drafted. I have marked the centre front and back.

This is a useful video tutorial on how to make a very simple vest. You can easily make adjustments to it to suit a different style of vest.

The vest front, shown with the shirt and pants.

The vest front, shown with the shirt and pants.

I had bought a large man’s button-up shirt from a second-hand shop, made from a heavy, thick woven cotton. I used this to make the both the vest and the cap. The vest is not lined, but is backed with black bemsilk.

Cap

After unsuccessfully scouring second-hand shops for something suitable, I resigned myself to having to sew a cap. I used the free pattern and tutorial provided on Clevergirl, and set to work. This cap was made from the same heavy cotton material I used for the vest, and was lined with black bemsilk.

The cap

The cap

This cap is probably a tiny bit floppy for the purpose, but it can easily be adapted if you prefer the panels to be smaller.

The good thing about this type of costume is that it can be used for a number of characters, including Gilbert Blyth (Anne of Green Gables). I am always on the look out for easy, versatile book-character costumes to use for Book Week!

Related Posts

Dress-ups for a Girl – an 18th century costume

Dress-ups for a Baby – an Edwardian costume

Sources and Relevant Links

How to make a simple vest – Youtube tutorial

Newsboy Cap: Pattern and Tutorial – by Clevergirl

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The Secret River, by Kate Grenville (date)

The Secret River, by Kate Grenville (2008)

The Secret River is a novel by Australian author, Kate Grenville. It explores the experiences of early convict settlement in Australia when fictional character, Will Thornhill, is transported from England 1806 and then pardoned to live as a free settler in New South Wales.

The story focuses much of the plot on William; first his early life, his transportation as a convict, and then the process and difficulties of becoming a landholder. His wife, Sal Thornhill, also travels to Australia with him and, together with their growing family, they eventually settle along the Hawkesbury River in what is now Sydney.

This novel explores the very natural conflict that occurred between white settlers and the native Aboriginals, as both groups fought for ownership over the land. The plot also contrasts the attitudes of those white settlers who had begun to realise that these native people were essentially the same as them – they loved their children, they loved their home -, with those who believed the natives were little more than animals.

Late last year I was contacted by a dancing friend of mine who was looking to gather together a group of “youngish” period dancers to dance in a scene of an up-and-coming movie-mini-series by the ABC, The Secret River. I was so excited to participate, as it was the first time I had been an extra in a movie, but the fact that is was a PERIOD movie really tickled me!

I am pleased to announce that the two-part mini-series premieres on Australian television on ABC, on June 14th and 21st, 2015. I will be watching to see if my scene made it into the final edit!

This book has also been adapted for the stage by Andrew Bovell, and was dramatised for audiences by the Sydney Theatre Company in 2013.

Related Posts

Every Savage Can Dance!

James Boswell’s Trip to Tyburn

Sources and Relevant Links

The Secret River, by Kate Grenville

The Secret River Airdate – view the trailer

The Secret River: An adaptation for the stage, by Andrew Bovell

The Secret River – pictures of the play

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The drawing in Janet Arnold's

The drawing in Janet Arnold’s “Pattern of Fashion 2”.

In the first part of this series, I concentrated on making the skirts of this early-1870’s gown. The skirts have such a nice drapery about them!

For this post I will be looking at the construction of the ballgown bodice. Ballgown bodices of this era often had short sleeves or were occasionally sleeveless. They were quite decorated around the bust and sleeve area, and often appeared to be almost off-the-shoulder.

Pattern

The pattern I am using is from Janet Arnold’s Patterns of Fashion 2. This particular gown has three separate skirts (the underskirt, the overskirt and the basque), as well as two bodices (the evening bodice and the day bodice).

I normally post pictures of all the pattern pieces, but I have found this gown slightly more complicated than others that I have done, so I suggest purchasing the book if you are intending to make this particular garment. Instead I have listed the pieces below:

  • Bodice front (cut 2, plus 2 lining)
  • Bodice back (cut 1 on fold, plus 1 lining on fold)
  • Bertha (left, right, front and back) (cut 4, plus 4 lining and 4 net)
  • Sleeve (cut 2)
  • Sleeve lining and gusset (cut 2 of each)
  • Sleeve band (cut 2)
  • Waistband (cut 1, plus 1 lining)

This garment was made from a printed striped cotton fabric and the lining was a white cotton broadcloth. The trims on the garment are made from a polyester shot maverick shantung.

I made a mock-up of the bodice first, just to sort out any fitting issues. I had to adjust the bertha quite significantly to fit it properly, and the waistline had to be enlarged.

Construction Steps

Step One: Once the pattern pieces were cut out, I mounted the outer fabric of the bodice pieces onto their corresponding lining pieces and treated them as one.

Step Two: I sewed the bodice side seams, then the front darts to fit. I sewed the shoulder seams.

The darts and side seams all sewn.

The darts and side seams all sewn. The shoulder seams are yet to be sewn.

Step Three: The bertha has an outer layer (cotton), lining layer (cotton) and inner layer of stiff net. There are four bertha pieces (front left and right, and back left and right), so altogether you should have cut out 12 pieces (four bertha pieces each in outer, lining and net).

Note: In the pattern the bertha pieces are all the same shape (for both front and back) but I had to adjust this in order for the garment to fit properly. My front and back bertha pieces, therefore, are different shapes.

I sewed each of these four bertha pieces to their corresponding layers (outer, net, lining layers) together on the upper edge.

The net sewn to the outer and lining pieces.

The bertha (front left piece) sewn to all its layers (outer, net, lining) along the upper edge. It is now opened up and pinned to the front right piece along the centre front.

You should now have four bertha pieces that are all attached along the upper edge. Now they need to be attached in the centre front and centre back. Do this by opening the pieces out and pinning right sides together at the centre front/back and sew.

Bertha is sewn at centre front and back.

The bertha is sewn at centre front (and likewise at centre back, not shown). Clip seam allowances and turn right side out and press.

The front and back bertha pieces are now sewn at the shoulder seams.

Step Four: The bertha can now be attached to the bodice. Match centre fronts and backs and shoulder seams. Sew the bertha outer layer (including the net) to the upper edge of the bodice (right sides together). Press the seam towards the bertha and turn the raw edge of the bertha lining under. Slip stitch it down.

The bertha is attached.

The bertha is attached. The bertha lining is being turned under and hand sewn down.

Step Five: Sew the sleeve seam. Gather the top and bottom edge of the sleeves (outer).

The sleeves are gathered top and bottom.

The sleeves are gathered top and bottom.

For the sleeve lining, slash the mark and insert the gusset. Sew the sleeve seam.

The lining sewn, showing the slash with gusset inserted.

The lining sewn, showing the slash with gusset inserted.

Mount the sleeve outer on top of the sleeve lining (wrong sides together) and pin. Attach the sleeve band, turning the excess to the inside and slip stitching the raw edges under.

The sleeve mounted on the lining and cuff strip attached.

The sleeve mounted on the lining and sleeve band attached. The raw edges of the sleeve band are pinned under and are ready to hand sew.

The sleeves can then be attached to the bodice.

Step Six: Attach the waistband to the bottom edge of the bodice.

Step Seven: Attach lace around the bottom of the sleeves and around the neckline. I used a 2 inch wide insertion lace. A thin cotton cord can be used to draw the fullness of the lace in so that the bodice does not fall down over the shoulders.

The front of the bodice, showing the cord lacing up the insertion lace at the front.

The front of the bodice, showing the cord lacing up the insertion lace at the front. The trim is also sewn down.

Step Eight: Make the trim (the same as is detailed in “the skirts” post) and attach it around the sleeve cuff, and around the bertha as per the diagram in Janet Arnold’s book.

Step Nine: Attach hooks and eyes down the centre front of the bodice. The centre front of the bertha meets edge to edge with the trim hiding the hooks and eyes, but further down on the bodice I created an overlap to more effectively hide the hooks and eyes.

The hooks and eyes sewn to fasten at the front. They are tucked behind a slight overlap in the fabric.

The hooks and eyes sewn to fasten at the front. They are tucked behind a slight overlap in the fabric.

Three waistband/trouser bars were also sewn to the back of the bodice waistband to correspond to matching hooks on the basque.

The back of the bodice, showing the hooks and bars sewn to attach the basque.

The back of the bodice, showing the hooks and bars sewn to attach the basque.

All finished! My dressmakers form is not the same shape as my corseted body but hopefully you get the idea.

The front

The front view

The back view

The back view

My last post in this series will be about making the day bodice for this ensemble. For more information on my costuming, go to my Costumes page.

Related Posts

Making an Early 1870’s Gown: Skirts

Making a Victorian Corset

Sources and Relevant Links

Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomens’ gowns and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy on Amazon

Setting a gusset – by Sempstress

Attaching a waistband – by Fashion Freaks (This tutorial is for a skirt, but the same principles apply.)

1871 ballgown – by Before the Automobile (See this beautiful version of this dress made by someone else!)

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Making a “proper” Victorian bustle gown has been on my list to do for a while. For 15 years actually – ever since I first saw a lady dancing in one and marvelled at its drapery.

There were two distinct periods in history where bustles – in their most “Victorian” extreme – were used. The first was in the early 1870’s and the second was in the 1880’s. Elsewhere in history, bumpads of all sorts have been frequently used, but here I am talking about the much more prominent Victorian bottom enhancer.

The 1871-3 three-piece-gown described and patterned in Janet Arnold's book. (Photo found on Pinterest, from manchestergalleries.org,but I can't find the original entry.)

The 1871-3 three-piece-gown described and patterned in Janet Arnold’s book. (Photo found on Pinterest, from manchestergalleries.org,but I can’t find the original entry.)

From 1871 to 1873, gowns were remarkably similar. Gown ensembles were most often in two pieces; the skirts and the bodice. The skirts were gored (which made them nice and full) and often included an outer or overskirt that ended around the knees. This overskirt was generally pulled up in a polonaise-style over the bustle behind. For day bodices, the sleeves were not highly gathered around the sleeve head, but instead often flared out at the bottom, sometimes in layers, in a manner very similar to 1970’s pants! For evening bodices, the style was almost off-the-shoulder with short gathered sleeves.

The gown that caught my eye more recently was found in one of Janet Arnold’s pattern books, and I even had the material purchased and waiting patiently to be made up!

This particular post will deal with making the three skirt layers: the underskirt, the overskirt and the basque.

Pattern

I used the pattern by Janet Arnold, in her book Pattern of Fashions 2. I had to make several alterations to it so it would fit me. For the skirts, this included increasing the length of the underskirt, and increasing the waistline measurements.

The drawing in Janet Arnold's "Pattern of Fashion 2".

The drawing in Janet Arnold’s “Pattern of Fashion 2”. This gown ensemble is made up of a day bodice, an evening bodice, an underskirt, an overskirt, and a basque.

I normally post pictures of my pattern pieces, but this gown is quite complicated. If you are interested in making this pattern I suggest you either get Janet Arnold’s book or get a similar historical pattern to use.

I dont often bother making a mock-up of the skirts of a gown, so I got straight into sewing!

Construction Steps

The Underskirt

Step One: Sew the underskirt panels together, leaving an opening for the placket, which is on the seam to the left of the centre back. To make the placket, I just pressed the seam allowance open and top stitched around the placket edge.

Step Two: Janet Arnold’s pattern includes a pocket in the front left seam of the underskirt. I highly recommend putting one in! Mine is made from white cotton broadcloth, and set on an angle (facing towards the centre front) in the left seam. Make sure you make an opening big enough to fit your hand in, and that the pocket is big enough to hold your fan or any other item you feel is essential.

The pocket sewn on an angle in the seam. It is positioned ... from the waistband.

The pocket sewn on an angle in the seam. The top of the pocket opening is positioned 5 inches down from the waistband.

Step Three: Laying the two waistband pieces right sides together, sew around them, leaving an opening for to turn it in the right way. Turn it in the right way and press. Sew the opening closed.

Step Four: Neaten the upper edge of the underskirt, pleat and attach to the waistband. I laid the waistband on top and sewed through all thicknesses. (As compared to the normal method of sewing a waistband.) Attach hooks and eyes to the waistband for fastening.

You can see the top stitching on the placket opening, and also the topstitching on the waistband (which secures the pleated skirt). The hooks and eyes are also sewn on.

You can see the top stitching on the placket opening, and also the topstitching on the waistband (which secures the pleated skirt). The hooks and eyes are also sewn on.

Janet Arnold is not clear exactly how to attach the skirt to the waistband. She does indicate cartridge-pleating was used in the overskirt but does not state that this was also done on the underskirt. I initially cartridge-pleated the underskirt, but after it all unravelled at the first ball it was worn to, I decided to pleat it the second time around instead!

Step Five: Bind the lower edge of the skirt with matching bias binding. I cut my own bias strips and made binding that matched my trim.

Step Six: Sew the wide bias strips of flounce onto the bottom of the skirt, folding the raw edge under and sewing through all thicknesses. Attach trim to hide the seam. (See below for trim construction.) Sew binding to the bottom edge of the flounce.

The flounce has been applied to the skirt, and the trim hides where it has been sewn. You can see the two bound edges on the bottom of the skirt.

The flounce has been applied to the underskirt, and the trim hides where it has been sewn. You can also see the two bound edges on the bottom of the skirt. The bottom edge of the flounce does not overhang the skirt, but is the same length as it.

The underskirt is finished!

1871-3 underskirt front

The front view

The back view

The back view

 

The Overskirt

Step One: Sew the skirt panels together, leaving the centre front seam open. Note: On the side seam of the front panel, two upward-pointing pleats are done prior to sewing the side seams.

Step Two: Take two waistband pieces and sew them in the same way as I sewed the underskirt waistband. Note: The waistband needs to be a finished piece (no raw edges) when a skirt is to be cartridge pleated to it. This is a different method of attaching the skirt and waistband than is normally done.

Step Three: Cartridge-pleat the upper edge of the back panel of the overskirt and attach to the waistband. Attach hooks and eyes to the waistband for fastening.

The top edge of the overskirt, being cartridge pleated.

The top edge of the overskirt being cartridge pleated. Note that the raw edge is folded over before the cartridge pleating stitches are started.

The finished cartridge pleats

The finished cartridge pleats in the back of the overskirt.

Step Four: Right sides together, sew the bias strips of flounce to the bottom edge of the overskirt. Attach trim to cover the seam line.

Step Five: Close the centre front seam by using covered buttons. For the bottom four buttons, overlap the two edges (right over left) of the skirt and sew through all thicknesses. For the remainder, sew buttons to the top layer (right) and attach hooks and eyes to fasten beneath the button, hidden from view.

All the buttons are false; that is, they do not have corresponding buttonholes. The buttons are the top are sewn through the left side of the placket and hooks and eyes are hidden beneath (not shown). The buttons at the bottom are sewn through both sides of the placket.

All the buttons are false; that is, they do not have corresponding buttonholes. The buttons at the top of the picture are sewn through the right side of the placket and hooks and eyes are hidden beneath (not shown here). The buttons at the bottom of the picture are sewn through both layers of the placket.

Step Six: The inside of the overskirt is draped using a system of tapes and buttons. The exact placement of these is detailed in Janet Arnold’s pattern, but can otherwise be done by pinning to see what looks best.

The tapes are sewn to the waistband and have buttonholes sewn into them. The buttons are sewn to the skirt. There are two tapes sewn to each side of the skirt which tie together to keep the skirt sitting at the back.

The tapes are sewn to the waistband and have buttonholes sewn into them. The buttons are sewn to the skirt. There are two tapes sewn to each of the side seams of the skirt which tie together to keep the skirt sitting at the back.

The overskirt is completed!

The front view

The front view

The back view

The back view

The Basque

Step One: Sew the pieces of the basque together. Sew the pieces of the basque lining together in the same way.

I discovered that there is a mistake in the Janet Arnold book, which confused me for awhile. The CB FOLD instructions are on the wrong pattern piece (the front), but when changed to the other (back) pattern piece, it all makes sense again.

The "CB to fold" instruction has been mistakenly put on the wrong pattern piece.

The “CB to fold” instruction has been mistakenly put on the wrong pattern piece.

Step Two: Right sides together, sew the basque and the lining together along the bottom and centre front edge. Fold the right way and press. Trim can now be added to the bottom edge.

Step Three: Make the pleats in the waistline and bind the top edge with bias binding to hold the pleats. Janet Arnold’s example was not bound with bias binding, but I found it easier to do that to properly hold the pleats in place. You could also attach it to the waistband in the normal manner instead.

The basque, with the trim attached and the waistline bound with bias binding, ready to attach to the waistband.

The basque, with the trim attached and the waistline bound with bias binding, ready to attach to the waistband.

Step Four: The waistband is made up of two main pieces: the outer layer cut on the bias, and the lining on the straight grain. The two layers can be laid wrong sides together and bias binding sewn around the top and bottom edges. The raw edges on the two short sides of the waistband can be turned to the inside and sewn down.

Step Four: Hand sew the bound upper edge of the basque to the waistband. I stitched “in the ditch” between the waistband binding and the outer material, through all thicknesses. Add hooks and eyes to fasten.

The basque is finished!

The front view

The front view. The bound waistband meets edge to edge.

The back view

The back view

Making the Trim

Step One: Cut bias strips from your chosen material, joining the strips until you have the necessary length. Fold the raw edges in on the wrong side and press. You piece should now look similar to bias-binding that can be bought in the store.

Anchor your thread with a few stitches to one folded edge of the strip.

Use a few stitches to ancor the thread at one side of the trim.

Use a few stitches to anchor the thread at one side of the trim.

Step Two: Using a running stitch, weave your needle in and out of the material until you have reached the other folded edge of the strip. Don’t pull your needle out, as it makes it more difficult to gather the threads in the next step.

Weave the needle in and out across the strip, creating a running stitch.

Weave the needle in and out across the strip, creating a running stitch.

Step Three: Use your fingers to squeeze the material together whilst it is still attached to the needle, creating a series of gathers.

Use your fingers to squeeze the material together whilst it is still attached to the needle.

Squeeze the material together whilst it is still attached to the needle.

Step Four: Pull the needle through the material, still holding the material tight in its gathers. Make a few small stitches on the other folded edge to anchor the thread.

Anchor the thread by stitching a few more stitches on the other folded edge.

Anchor the thread by stitching a few more stitches on the other folded edge.

Step Five: Hand sew the trim onto your gown, trying to make your stitches as invisible as possible. I hand sewed the top edge and the bottom edge of the trim to the gown, rather than just securing it at the gathers. That then ensures the raw edges are all anchored securely.

The trim attached

The trim attached

And here is the skirts all layered together. My dressmakers form doesn’t seem to hold the bustle in the right place on the waist, so the back does tend to droop. However, it doesn’t do that when I am wearing it.

The skirt layers together.

The skirt layers together.

Keep an eye out for the next post in this series, the evening bodice.

Related Posts

Making a Victorian Corset

Making a Victorian Chemise

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Pinterest (but the original is reported to have come from manchestergalleries.org)

Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomens gowns and their construction, by Janet Arnold – buy on Amazon

Sewing a waistband in the normal manner – by Fashion Freaks

How to sew cartridge pleats – by Historical Sewing

1871 ballgown – by Before the Automobile (See this beautiful version of this dress made by someone else!)

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